Filters are working for drinking water; residents need to help by flushing home plumbing

FLINT, MI – A recent review of test results by state, federal and independent water quality experts shows the water quality in Flint is improving. In addition, the protective coating is being restored to Flint’s pipes, which is an important measure needed to provide quality water until lead pipes can be replaced.

Today data was presented to the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee by officials from the state Department of Environmental Quality and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The conclusions presented represent a consensus reached by officials from the DEQ, EPA, and Virginia Tech University. The group met in Chicago and presented their findings to each other and to city of Flint officials at the EPA’s regional headquarters. They reviewed recent data collected from Flint homes and the city’s water system.

“Whenever we see a positive trend in Flint’s water quality, that’s good news but we still have much work to do to get people the quality of water they need and deserve,” said Gov. Rick Snyder.

The experts noted that there are still random locations where high lead levels are a concern, but much of that can be attributed to the presence of small pieces of lead that have broken off from pipes and may be caught in a home’s plumbing system.

At the meeting in Chicago, government, university and independent water quality experts agreed that some key steps are needed to continue the work to restore the water quality in Flint. Key highlights from the group’s meeting include:

  • Residents should flush kitchen water faucets regularly to remove pieces of lead that may be in their home’s plumbing. Water quality experts are working on a standard flushing method regarding duration and quantity to recommend to residents.
    • Flushing a home’s plumbing also will help move corrosion control chemicals through the system faster and further.
    • Running other faucets in bathrooms and all other non-primary drinking water faucets also should be done periodically.
  • Residents need to clean the aerators of kitchen and bathroom faucets once per week to remove any pieces of lead that may be or may become trapped inside the screen.
    • Aerators are the small screens which screw inside the opening of a faucet. Their job is to improve water flow and to catch any particles that may be floating loose in a home’s pipes.
  • Residents are encouraged to use filtered water for drinking and cooking, as the team of experts agrees that data proves it is safe to use filtered water as a primary source of drinking water.
    • Test results indicate that filters are extremely effective in removing lead from water, even at very high levels.
    • Residents should be sure to properly maintain these filters to make sure they are operating correctly by replacing used cartridges and only running cold water through the filters.
  • Water and health experts from the Michigan DEQ and Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the EPA and CDC, agree it is safe to bathe in unfiltered water. 

“The city, state and federal government need to continue the partnership we’ve had to restore the water quality.” Snyder said. “And we need the people of Flint to help with the plumbing in their homes and making sure their neighbors are doing the same. By working together we will help Flint move forward faster.”

A community forum is being planned in Flint for April 16 during which many of the experts who met in Chicago will be available to provide more details on testing results and their analysis to the public.

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